Lewis Capaldi is expected to take top honours at the Brit Awards on Tuesday, with wins predicted in major categories including best male and best single.
The Scottish star will also perform at the ceremony, after a year in which he scored the best-selling single and album in the UK.
His main competition comes from London-born rapper Dave, whose frank and confessional debut album Psychodrama won last year’s Mercury Prize.
Both artists are up for four awards.
But most pundits agree Capaldi will be rewarded for the success of his breakout song, Someone You Loved, and the multi-platinum sales of his debut album, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent.
“I’m just going to turn up, watch Lewis Capaldi win everything and then go home,” joked Sam Fender, who’s nominated against Capaldi in the best male category.
Speaking to BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat, Fender acknowledged he’d beaten Capaldi in the Critics’ Choice category last year, but said he didn’t expect a repeat performance.
“I think they gave me that award last year because they could see 2020 coming,” he said. “They were like ‘Oh Lewis Capaldi’s going to win everything next year.’
“Even I’ve voted for Lewis.”
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Capaldi does face stiff competition in almost every category, though.
Two-time Brit Award-winner Stormzy arrives at the Brits after a triumphant 2019 which saw him headline Glastonbury and enter the charts at number two with his second album, Heavy Is The Head.
Notably, his record was released in the same week as the Brits’ academy cast their votes, meaning his music will have been prominent in critics’ minds as they selected this year’s winners.
Harry Styles’ second album, Fine Line, was also released to coincide with the voting window and also makes it into the best album shortlist – making him the first member of One Direction to receive that accolade.
But Capaldi’s biggest challenger is Dave – whose thought-provoking record Psychodrama was hailed as “the boldest and best British rap album in a generation” by The Guardian.
If he wins album of the year, the 21-year-old, from Brixton, will become only the second artist to win both a Brit and Mercury Prize for the same record. Arctic Monkeys previously did the double with Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
In the international categories, Billie Eilish could easily repeat her victory at the Grammys by taking home the best female prize.
The star is also set to give the first performance of her James Bond theme, No Time To Die, accompanied by ex-Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr and a 22-piece orchestra.
“I’m so scared, because we’ve never performed it, ever,” she told BBC Breakfast. “I’m hitting a note I’ve never hit before. I’m scared.”
Female artists sidelined
Other performances on the night will come from Harry Styles, Lizzo, Stormzy, Mabel and Rod Stewart – who’s reuniting with the surviving members of The Faces to close the show.
Soul newcomer Celeste, who won the Brits’ rising star award, will also give her first live TV performance, playing the heart-rending ballad Strange – a moment that could rival Adele’s career-changing performance of Someone Like You in 2011.
The ceremony takes place at London’s O2 Arena, with comedian Jack Whitehall hosting for the third year running. It will be broadcast live on ITV from 20:00 GMT.
The awards have been criticised for a lack of diversity, with only four women nominated across the four categories open to both male and female artists – best group, best new artist, best song and album of the year.
Two of those nominations go to the same person, pop singer Mabel, while the remaining two, for Miley Cyrus and Normani, are guest vocalists on songs by Mark Ronson and Sam Smith.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the Brits, defended the choice of nominees, saying there had been “a lot of success for male acts in 2019”, particularly in the male-dominated grime and hip-hop genres.
“That is different to 2018. We had a really strong showing from female [nominees] last year with the same [gender] balance in the academy. So last year it was all about Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie, Jorja Smith, Florence [+ The Machine] and Jess Glynne,” he told Music Week magazine.
“This year we’ve got a strong set of releases from male artists. When you look at the album of the year nominees, they all released absolutely fantastic records.
“We have an academy that’s made up equally of men and women, and that academy decided that these were the best releases of this particular year.
“We need to respect that. They have decided that, creatively, these were the best records. We have to respect the views of a 50-50 academy, and we have to reflect what’s going on in music.”
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